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Mon, Jan 07, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Nation, military mourn loss of Taiwanese patriot

A REMARKABLE CAREER Though he ended his career after stepping down as head of the navy after the Yin Ching-feng murder case broke, Chuang Ming-yao remained an important figure in politics. He died yesterday at the age of 73

By Sandy Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chuang Ming-yao.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

Since being diagnosed in June with liver cancer, Chuang Ming-yao, 73, had been in and out of the hospital. Despite their best efforts, doctors at at the Taipei Veterans General Hospital were unable to stop the cancer spread.

"Chuang was a respected man, a very hard-working individual," said Wu Shi-wen (伍世文), minister of national defense, saying that Chuang's devotion to his work often led to a neglect of his health.

"If he [Chuang] took as good care of his health as he did with his work, he would still be alive," Wu added.

On behalf of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), Yu Shyi-kun, secretary-general to the president, yesterday paid a visit to the hospital and paid his respects to Chuang's family, adding that "if it weren't for scheduling conflicts, President Chen would have paid his respects in person."

Yu said that the Presidential Office would help Chuang's family take care of Chuang's funeral arrangements.

Chuang was highly regarded by both Chen and former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) due to his military experience and his expertise in Japan-related affairs.

Chuang's career included service as commander of 142nd fleet, the president of the navy's non-commissioned officers' school, the chief-of-staff at Navy General Headquarters, vice minister of national defense and the first Taiwanese ever to hold the position of naval commander-in-chief.

Though Chuang ended his military career by stepping down as naval commander-in-chief after the murder case of naval captain Yin Ching-feng (尹清楓) broke, Chuang remained highly valued by Lee and was offered the position of presidential strategic advisor.

In 1996, Chuang served as Taiwan's de facto-ambassador to Japan and when Chen assumed the presidency in May 2000, Chuang was tapped by Chen to return to Taiwan to serve as secretary-general of the National Security Council.

The Yin murder case brought the Lafayette frigate weapons procurement scandal to the surface, during which military officials and arms brokers were jailed on charges including bribery and leaking military secrets.

The murder case, which remains unsolved, had dogged Chuang whenever frequent rumors citing Chuang's relationship to Yin surfaced.

Many believe that Chuang, though not directly involved in the murder, as the navy's top official must have harbored information related to the murder case.

In August of last year, Chen re-designated Chuang to head the Association of East Asian Relations to take advantage of his expertise and relations with prominent figures in Japan.

"Coming from a military background, Chuang made remarkable use of his decision-making and maneuvering skills in dealing with diplomatic affairs," said Chu Wen-ching (朱文清), director of the Department of Domestic Information Services at the Government Information Office, who worked with Chuang during his posting in Japan.

Chu said that through Chuang's effort and diplomacy skill, "he contributed much to the advancement of relations between Taiwan and Japan."

Examples such as the 1998 resumption of air travel between Taipei and Osaka, which had been terminated after the two nations cut diplomatic ties in 1972, as well as the Japanese government's decision to loosen restrictions on Taiwanese tourists' multiple-entry visas, well illustrate his diplomatic capacity.

Chu said that it was through Chuang's lobbying efforts that when Chinese President Jiang Zemin (江澤民) visited Japan in November 1998, then Japanese premier Keizo Obuchi did not follow former US president Bill Clinton's lead and accept China's "Three No's policy" toward Taiwan.

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